The pre-capitalist societies of the Mediterranean basin



Considerations on the origin and structure of the feudal world

With the consolidation of its area of ​​conquest, important and growing mercantile production developed in ancient Rome; with the expansion of the Roman Empire, it was extended to almost all of Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa. Transport had, in the long Roman imperial period, great expansion, the regional economies of the empire were interconnected by trade routes. Army supply contracts existed in all parts of the Roman Empire, they were established both with local suppliers in close proximity to military bases (castros) as well as with others that operated on a larger scale.

The basis of production in the Roman Empire, however, was the slave regime. The expansion of production had limits arising from production relations, which forced this regime to coexist with other forms of labor exploitation, which introduced new property relations, competitors and dissolvers of the old ones. The progressive dissolution of slavery originated, in Europe,[I] the feudal regime, a system based on ownership or usufruct of the land, the main means of production, by a dominant class, the nobility, in which the Christian clergy (in large part recruited in the former), which already held an important position of power in the final phase of the Empire, also had a privileged and leading position.

Certain characteristics of the feudal regime were pointed out as exclusive causes for the future European capitalist boom (for Samir Amin, “the delay of the West, expressed by the interruption of Rome and by the feudal fragmentation, certainly gave it historical advantage”),[ii] as it did not happen in other regions of the world, which were, in that same period, much more advanced, in all senses, than Europe.

Coming from the Roman imperial dissolution, the feudal regime was characterized by the dispersion of political power, previously exercised over a vast extension integrated by a single power. With this fragmentation of power, the essential issue became the security of goods and people, which could no longer be guaranteed by imperial power: “The combination of specific elements from the old tributary mode and barbarian communal modes characterized feudalism and gave to the West its flexibility… quickly surpassing the level of development of the productive forces of the West, which were surpassed, passing to capitalism. This flexibility and speed contrasted with the relatively rigid and slow evolution of full tributary modes in the East. Undoubtedly, the Roman-Western case is not the only example of interrupted tributary construction. We can identify at least three other cases of this type, each with its specific conditions: the Byzantine-Arab-Ottoman case, the Indian case, the Mongol case”.[iii]

Feudalism was based on the economic unity between the producer and the means of production. The feudal lord was satisfied when he received enough income from his peasants to support himself, his family and his servants, within their warlike and unproductive way of life. Submitted to the lords, the producers were the owners of their work instruments, the peasants were linked to the alien land on which they lived, dictated their work rhythm and produced most of what they consumed.

The institutional and “ideological” characteristics of feudalism, where the social and political order were in fact fused, had their roots in the final (Christian) phase of the Roman Empire: “The Christian nobility had the possibility to flourish (from the) Christian Roman – maintained in the East in the form of the 'Greek' or 'Byzantine' Empire – in the kingdom of the Franks, substituted for the Western Empire and divided into the Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of France; in addition to these structures of imperial essence, there were the other Christian kingdoms of East and West. there was none nobles outside that frame; the Venetian nobility with their dux, with a rank similar to that of European monarchies, was nothing more than a derivative of the Eastern Empire, which knew how to take advantage of its situation between two empires, as did another State born 'between two empires', from a ducatus imperial: the papal state. The monarchs and dynasties of these empires and kingdoms, with their respective nobility, were Christian authorities subject to divine law”.[iv]

On the other hand, politically, “the emperors' adherence to Christianity affected the notion of sovereignty (majestic). While for pagans the sovereignty of the Empire emanated from the people, for Christians, sovereignty belonged to God. A majestic imperial was re-dimensioned as the emperor first recognized himself as a servant of the divinity, a condition expressed by the formula of very Christian. The alteration of the notion of sovereignty combined with that of ministry/divine service, decisively and progressively modified the conception of peace, which became an obligation no longer derived from the legitimate power established by the people, but, simultaneously, a delegation of the power of God and his order. This connection, established in late Antiquity, between divine sovereignty and the ministerial conception of power, whose functions were essentially limited to the maintenance of peace and justice, constituted the nucleus of conceptions related to power that prevailed during the Middle Ages”.[v] The old institutions, when preserved, contained new contents, and this was not limited to the institutional level.

For the imperial collapse in the European West and the emergence of feudalism were not only an institutional change, but of the mode of production of social life. The end of the Roman Empire signaled the end of slave production in Europe: “The enlarged military and bureaucratic machine at the end of the Empire took a terrible toll on a society whose economic resources had declined. The arrival of urban tax collectors weakened trade and craft production in cities. A set of taxations fell relentlessly and unbearably on the peasantry.

The Empire was torn apart by increasing economic difficulties and social polarization in the last years of the fourth century. But it was only in the West that these processes reached their crucial end, with the collapse of the entire imperial system in the face of barbarian invaders. The Empire in the West succumbed to the bands of primitive invaders that crossed it in the fifth century, while, in the East, the Empire - against which its attacks had been much more dangerous - escaped and survived. The answer to this question rests on all the previous historical development of the two zones of the Roman imperial system”. With the end of the western Roman Empire and “with the formation of the colonato, the central plot of the entire economic system shifted to another place, to the relationship between the dependent rural producer, the lord and the State”.[vi]

From the XNUMXth century onwards, the logic of the feudal economy prevailed in most regions of Europe. The feudal autarchy made barter the typical mode of exchange and transaction at occasional fairs, at least until the XNUMXth century. The feudal lords of the extraction of the economic surplus produced by the serfs. Hence the basic contradiction of the feudal system, which pitted serfs against lords. The cultivators, the servants of the gleba, found themselves tied to the person and land of the lord, to whom they owed corveias or other benefits in work or in kind. In return, the lord owed them support and protection from external dangers. The feudal system functioned as a kind of “natural life insurance”. The “property right” of the time included a right in the person of the vassal; vassalage ran up the social scale to the top, through suzerainties, whereby local lords were vassals to other superior lords.[vii]

The last rung of the feudal social scale was the serf, linked for life with his family to the person of the lord and to the land on which he lived and worked. All relationships between masters and subordinates were governed by networks of natural rights, not by free transactions (operated through the market, a notion almost entirely absent in High Middle Ages Europe): “Serfdom is the form of work and existence in the feudal mode of production”.[viii] It was in line with the daily life of individuals “impregnated to their most intimate fibers by religion”, where the conceptions of man converged in the idea of ​​“man on the move” whose earthly acts influenced his life post-mortem or eternity and in the conception of the “penitent man” whose life should be considered an eternal sacrifice in accordance with the condition of original sinner, for whom penance would be the form of salvation.[ix]

The new mode of production dominated Europe during the millennium following the fall of the Empire, during much of which Europe was relatively isolated and externally harassed. Its essential lines of force were outlined during the decline of the slavery period: “The colonato was the attribution of the former free worker to the land as a perpetual and hereditary lease, for whom subjection to the land was a right and a necessity. Colonato was initially inaugurated by the emperors themselves in their immense African domains, later expanding to Italy and Gaul, imitated by the great lords and, after the fifth century, by the Germanic aristocracy and the Church itself. Initially aiming to avoid the depopulation of the countryside and tax evasion, the colonato was transformed from a private instrument into a prescription of public law, which ensured the collection of taxes, mainly in natura. The settlers were subject to two types of obligations: benefits in natura and corveias, mandatory work owed to the lord”.[X]

Europe's economy came to be controlled by local powers; its internal and external trade and its ancient unifying civilization went into decline:[xi] “The most evident effect of the economic and political crisis, in the first five centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, was the ruin of the cities and the dispersion of the inhabitants to the fields, where they could draw their livelihood from the earth. The field was divided into large properties (five thousand hectares or larger). In the center was the owner's usual residence, the cathedral, the abbey and the castle; possessions were often scattered over great distances. In this rural society, which formed the basis of feudal political organization, cities had a marginal place; did not function as administrative centers, and to a lesser extent as centers of production and exchange”.[xii]

Thus, local “micro societies” emerged, marked by demographic decline, the scarcity of currency and the retreat of the monetary economy, by the strong contraction of commercial exchanges. The European setback and/or stagnation extended from the XNUMXth century until the XNUMXth century. For much of this period, however, ancient long-distance trade developed, reinvigorated, in emerging Islamic Arabia: the Arabs established long-distance trade routes with Egypt, Persia, and Byzantium. The European Middle Ages, however, was not an “immobile era”: Europe was geographically and commercially redefined, the European population was transformed due to external invasions. The foundations for a new commercial surge were maintained and even developed: “Even in the moments of greatest depression, Scandinavia, England and the Baltic countries continued their trade with Byzantium and with the Arabs, mainly through the Russians. Even the Carolingian Empire continued to sell salt, glass, iron, weapons and millstones to the north.[xiii] The remains of the ancient Roman Empire, however, were a fortress besieged, from the south, by the Arabs, from the north by the Scandinavian Vikings, to the east by the Germans and Huns, whose territorial advances came to shape, through successive occupations and ethnic mixtures, the population of Europe.

It was chroniclers of that time who first used the term Europeans, to refer to Charles Martel's men who stood up to the Muslim incursions, finally defeating them at Poitiers in 732, preventing complete Muslim domination of the subcontinent.[xiv] During the Middle Ages, Western Europe was a relatively poor region and threatened by other empires, only much later did it take off to start conquering much of the world. In the High Middle Ages, nothing indicated that the future “Europeans” could accomplish this. Divided into two empires, the Carolingian and the Byzantine, and several barbarian kingdoms, the Muslims were still on their doorstep: in the XNUMXth century, they already dominated most of the Iberian peninsula.

Then Europe suffered invasions by Turks and Mongols. It was the bloody internal process parallel and consecutive to the equally bloody withdrawal from external danger that allowed the turnaround that transformed Europeans into expansive peoples, not just concerned with their survival. With the external invasions and internal migrations, the ethnic mixture started to characterize the great majority of the European regions: in 1939, still, Marc Bloch affirmed that the determination of the European regional ethnic composition was only possible through proofs and indirect testimonies, as the survival of ancient linguistic expressions in local languages ​​(later, it was possible to trace, with greater accuracy, the DNA routes of European and other peoples).

In the High Middle Ages, the void left by the end of the Roman Empire was filled by the Arab-Islamic expansion, which began in the XNUMXth century, broke the unity of the Mediterranean existing in Antiquity, destroying the “Christian-Roman synthesis” that unified most of the diverse regions of the single European-African-Asian sea. In the eleventh century, much of eastern Europe was occupied by the Ottomans, Islamized in the preceding centuries. At the same time, China knew a brilliant civilization, pioneer in countless scientific discoveries (such as the compass, the astrolabe, gunpowder, paper, the press). The diffuse survival, under these conditions, of a separate “Western European unit” had a religious basis, the Christianites: the Carolingian Empire had adopted a calendar in which times were counted from the birth of Christ the Redeemer (Anno Domini).

Western Christendom defined itself in relation to the orthodox faith, resulting from the Byzantine imperial split, and to Islam. The division of the former romanitas it gave birth to new concepts: “From the twelfth century onwards, Europe is a unitary reality that has the same extension as Latin Christianity. But their unity is not political. The Latin space was an agglomeration of entities of different dimensions, subject to powers of varying status, gathered or divided according to dynastic strategies, whose general relations were not allowed to be enclosed in any general formula”.[xv]

From the dissolution of the Roman Empire to its precarious reformulation as a political unit in the form of a vague "European idea", seven centuries passed, during which the expansive centers of Eurasia and Africa were to be found in the Far East (in China) and , contiguous to the barely sketched “Europe”, in the Islamic civilization, the first to reach a “global” expansion before the American discovery.

Before their expansive enterprise, the Arab peoples experienced an atomization in permanent movement, in caravans that went from China to the south of Africa, unifying poor and dispersed tribes along the way.[xvi] How far did this first “globalization” go? The conquest of Spain (between the years 711 and 714 of our era) marked the apogee of the Islamic empire, which existed for only eighty years, but which already dominated a vaster region than the old Roman Empire. This “Arab”-Islamic civilization is traditionally identified with religious fatalism or fanatical violence, an identity contradicted by the presence, since the XNUMXth century (or XNUMXst century of the Islamic Hejira), of “a strong critical spirit in the religious domain within this civilization".[xvii] The Greek intellectual heritage was retaken by Arab thinkers (Ashrite al-Gazali, Averroes, Avicenna) since the XNUMXth century. In the traditional view, however, “the Arabs did not have an art, a science, a philosophy of their own, they assimilated everything from the Greeks , the Egyptians, the Byzantines, although they knew how to merge and re-elaborate the whole in their own language”.[xviii]

“Fusing and re-elaborating” also means creating; the Arabic language was that of Islam, the creed that made it possible to unify the dispersed energies of a region that already had a previous diffuse and fragmented cultural unity. It did not happen, however, that the enormous Islamic territorial extension was permanently governed by a single central power: in the four centuries of the “golden age” of the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258) each Islamic region was governed by a local dynasty, which recognized, formally, the government of Baghdad, seat of the sultan. The Arab expansion confined the barbarian kingdoms of western Europe, finding its main obstacle in maintaining the eastern Empire: “The expansion of the Byzantine Empire in the sixth and seventh centuries resulted in large part from the need to control the routes and sources of supply of western products, mainly the metals of Spain. The Arab occupation of North Africa severed these links. Even if a regular and active flow developed between the Arab ports, this activity was outside the scope of European civilization and had few repercussions on it. But the Arab predominance in the waters west of Sicily did not interfere with trade between the ports of the Adriatic and the East... [The Arab presence] caused, between the eighth and tenth centuries, that navigation between the ports of Sicily was reduced to a minimum. Western Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean”.[xx]

For five centuries, Islam was dominant in a vast empire that spanned from Spain to India, a territory possessing a common culture and language, the Arabic language. From 1096 to 1250, the Islamic empire resisted the Christian crusades, but received a very strong blow with the invasion of the Mongols, in 1258, which began its decline. Meanwhile, with the expansion of Islam, its far-reaching trade quickly spread to Spain, Portugal, North Africa and Asia, forming an economic system with an extra-European center, alongside others like it, such as the empire Chinese, dominant in the Far East: “It is difficult to give figures for former [extra-European] long-distance trade, when compared with production.

This uncertainty allowed minimizing its importance, considering these exchanges as limited only to luxury products, that is, marginal deals between ruling elites. This negligence is very regrettable and in solidarity with Eurocentrism. It allowed us to consider anecdotal, in the economic evolution of Europe, its retreat from the great trade between the fourth and twelfth centuries, approximately. In these eight centuries, the rest of the Eurasian continent experienced an unprecedented expansion of distance commerce, and a sophistication of its actors and techniques”.[xx]

After the conquest of North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, attempts at Islamic expansion failed, and a slow decline began, punctuated by upheavals of new splendor: there was a resurgence in the western part of the empire, which would end with the “reconquista” of Spain by the Christian kingdoms. During its period of conquests and expansion, Arab culture expanded its knowledge by absorbing the cultures of other peoples, without limiting itself to “passing them on”, as they also developed them, before going into decline. As it usually happens in the most diverse cultures, the Arabian owl took flight in its twilight. In the period of decline of Islamic civilization, Ibn Khaldun (born in Tunis, in 1332), considered both the first “universal historian” (of the Mediterranean universe of Islam), and also the precocious representative of an “Islamic enlightenment”,[xxx] submitted the history of Mediterranean peoples to the analysis of their social and economic foundations. He did so in a work that maintained the tension between analytical reason and prophetic vision, which did not prevent him from researching the pre-Islamic foundations of Arab civilization: he set out to build a “discourse on universal history”, based on the history of the Islamic world of North Africa.

This and other examples corroborate that Islamic civilization was not limited to preserving and transmitting the heritage of classical antiquity; the invention of the mathematical concept of zero and algebra (bases of all modern exact sciences) were his work. But his contribution was not limited to the exact and natural sciences. Ibn Khaldun, in Al-Muqaddimah, pioneered the origin of human wealth in work: “Everything comes from God. But human labor is necessary for man's survival. Or: “History has as its object the study of human society, that is, of universal civilization. It deals with everything that refers to the nature of this civilization, that is: wild life and social life, the particularities due to the clan spirit and the ways in which one human group dominates another.

This last point leads to an examination of the birth of power, dynasties and social classes. In the sequence, the story is also interested in the lucrative professions and ways of earning a living, which form part of man's activities and efforts, as well as in science and the arts; finally, it has as its object everything that characterizes civilization”. The division of labor as the basis of economic progress was already present in the reflection of the Arab thinker: “What is obtained through the cooperation of a group of human beings satisfies the needs of a number many times greater than that group”.[xxiii] General prosperity and specific skill progressed in tandem with specialization. Ibn Khaldun went further: increases in productivity based on specialization were determined by the size of the market (or, in his words, “by the degree of [urban] civilization”). Specialization was the offspring of demand, an idea that European political economy would take centuries to formulate. Hence the greater prosperity in the cities than in the countryside. The basic elements of modern social science were already present, without yet constituting a system.

One of the explanations for the decline of Muslim expansion is that it suffered from “gigantism”, that is, its size exceeded its possibilities of control, and, as a result, it saw itself weaken, first in its borders, then in its center. Gradually, the most distant areas became independent or were recovered by their historical enemies, Byzantines, Franks, neo-Goth kingdoms, who kept in the collective memory and oral tradition the time of the Arab conquest of their territories. In the tenth century, the disintegration of the Arab empire was accentuated, partly due to the influence of groups of mercenaries converted to Islam, who tried to create kingdoms separate from the caliphate.

The Seljuk Turks (not the Ottomans, ancestors of the creators of present-day Turkey) sought to prevent this process and managed to unify a part of the territory. The Seljuks, who in the eleventh century had taken control of the caliphate, reducing the old caliph to a decorative function, continued the war against the Christians, crushing Byzantine forces at Manzikert in 1071, thus conquering eastern and central Anatolia. and going to Jerusalem, in 1078: “Iran's role as a route for Islam to Asia or the Mediterranean was manifested in contact with the Turks. The first contacts of the Turks, a population originally from East Asia, with Islam, were made through Iran. By converting to Islam, they also assimilated Iranian culture. Once masters of the Islamic world, they extended it to the East, in the regions of Central Asia and, above all, in India. The Turks did not renounce their own language, Anatolia became Turkish, not Arabic or Persian. But Turkish culture was largely expressed in Persian, which was also the official language of the Islamic empire of India, the Mughal empire”.[xxiii]

After the period of expansion in the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, in turn, the Byzantine Empire also found itself in serious difficulties, with revolts by nomads north of the border, and loss of territories on the Italian peninsula, conquered by the Normans. Internally, the expansion of large domains to the detriment of the small peasant resulted in a decrease in the financial and human resources available in Byzantium. Emperor Alexios I asked the West for help in dealing with the Seljuk threat. It was in this turbulent context that the crusades, who confronted Islamic civilization with the new Christian (European) civilizations. In Christian Europe, around the year 1000, the pilgrimage of Christians to Jerusalem had greatly increased; there was a belief that the end of time was near and that any sacrifice to avoid Hell would be worth it. The rule of the Seljuks over Palestine was perceived by Christians as a form of repression against Western pilgrims and Eastern Christians.

The Crusades were military movements of kingdoms and Christian lords that left Western Europe towards the Holy Land (the name by which Christians called Palestine) and the city of Jerusalem with the intention of conquering, occupying and maintaining it. it under Christian rule. The breeding ground for this “holy war” took a century to be ready. On January 27, 1095, at the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II urged French nobles to liberate the Holy Land and place Jerusalem under Christian sovereignty, presenting the military expedition as a form of penance. The crowd and nobles enthusiastically accepted the proposal, and soon left towards the East, superimposing a red cross on their clothes.

The nature of the crusades, a religious phenomenon in the service of economic and political goals, was clarified in 1096, when the Jews of the cities of the Rhine region were subjected to a merciless massacre by the Christians, at the time when Peter the Hermit was assembling military forces. and economic resources for the crusade. There were nine crusades between 1096 and 1272: “There was also an economic interest in them, the desire to take possession of the sources from which gold, myrrh and frankincense came, the rich purple fabrics, the worked ivories, the rare spices , everything that the Asian continent sent to the coasts of Arabia and Syria, to offer to the West through Genoa or Venice? It's possible".[xxv]

During the Crusades, the Europeans maintained almost constant control of the Levantine coast, particularly its major ports, Accra, Antioch and Tripoli. The Crusades also facilitated Genoese expansion, which began with the conquest of Corsica and Sardinia from Pisa in the 1261th century, and completed with the establishment of the colonies of Pera, alongside Constantinople, and Kaffa, in Crimea, in 1099. Interests direct commercials played an increasingly important role, notably after the Third Crusade. Organized with the aim of “tearing the tomb of Christ out of the hands of the infidels”, the first crusade ended, in XNUMX, with the conquest of Jerusalem and, in the following year, the creation of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.

The latter held until 1187, when it was conquered by the Kurdish military leader Saladin, founder of the Ayubid dynasty. By the beginning of the twelfth century, the Muslim world had all but forgotten the Jihad,[xxiv] the religious war waged against the enemies of Islam. The explosive expansion that began in the 1212th century had dwindled to memories of the grandeur of that era. In XNUMX, the Islamic kingdoms of Al-Anadalus, on the Iberian peninsula, were militarily crushed by the Christian Iberian kingdoms in the battle of Navas de Tolosa.

After the first successful Christian crusade, Muslim morale was low. You firanj (Frankish) had earned a reputation for ferocity; with their military successes in Antioch and Jerusalem, they seemed invincible: they humiliated the caliphate and attacked with impunity. With the exception of Egypt's vassals, most Muslim leaders in the immediate territories paid a heavy tribute to ensure peace. O atabag Zengi began a military campaign against the firanj in 1132. In five years, he managed to reduce the number of Frankish castles along the border of the County of Edessa and defeated the army firanj in open battle. In 1144, he captured the city of Edessa and neutralized the Crusaders' territorial hold. The Ayubids were followed by the Mamluks, Turks (1250-1382) and Circassians (1382-1516).

It was during the Mamluk period that the great wave of popular Islamization of Palestine took place. With alternating results, the Crusades decisively altered the European economy. In Arab countries, they were called "Frankish invasions", since the local peoples saw these armed movements as invasions, and because most Crusaders came from the territories of the former Carolingian Empire and called themselves "Frankish".

Contemporary writer Amin Maalouf narrated the views of Arabs on the crusades and the crusaders, seen as cruel, savage, ignorant and culturally backward. Combining history and literature, Maalouf simulated an autobiography based on the true story of Hasan al-Wazzan, an Arab ambassador who in 1518, on a pilgrimage trip to Mecca, was captured by Sicilian pirates and handed over to Pope Leo X. From the XNUMXth century until the end of the crusades, in the XNUMXth century, the book builds an inverse narrative to the current in the western world, traversing a long gallery of famous figures, describing the main facts of war and showing situations in a scenario where Christians are seen as “ barbarians” unaware of the most elementary rules of honor, dignity and ethics.[xxv]

The Maronite Christians of Lebanon, militarily pressured by the Seljuk Turks, sought help from the “European invaders”, starting a rapprochement between the Papacy and the Maronite Patriarch. The orders of the Knights of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem (Hospitallers) and the Knights Templar were created during the crusades. The crusades were designated by the expressions "pilgrimage" and "holy war". The expression “crusade” arose because its participants were distinguished by the cross affixed to their combat clothes.

The crusades were also a pilgrimage, a form of payment for a promise, or a way of asking for some grace, as well as a penance imposed by ecclesiastical authorities. Its realization over a century was conditioned by the historical-social context. Benefiting from the maritime power of the Italian city-states, the crusades opened a new phase in European trade with the East, also stimulating economic and cultural contacts. Trade between Europe and Asia Minor increased considerably; Europe discovered new products, in particular sugar and cotton.

In the center of Islam, on the other hand, “after the initial stability provided by the Mamluk government, there followed a series of phases of decay provoked by various calamitous circumstances: the devastation caused by the Black Death in 1348, the inability of the rulers to control the Mamluk class, and the collapse of the monopoly of the maritime spice route after Vasco da Gama opened the route to India bypassing Africa in 1497. The conquest of Egypt by the Ottomans, in 1517, only confirmed Cairo's position as provincial town. The following two centuries witnessed the decay of the city in the midst of cultural aridity, a chaotic government, a fundamentalist religious teaching, appropriate for a desert society, and a population formed mostly by illiterate and discouraged peasants”.[xxviii]

Faced with the alternatives to explain the rapid Arab decline, which listed the attacks against free thought and the closure within their religious ideology, which would have prevented both the emergence of an “enlightened absolutism” and modernization; the “colonization” of Islamic states and armies by “barbarians”, and other explanations, Fernand Braudel opted for the changing role of the Mediterranean Sea itself: “As the eleventh century drew to a close, Europe began its reconquest of the Inland Sea. The nurturing sea then escaped Islam… The West, deprived of free circulation in the Mediterranean, had closed in on itself between the eighth and ninth centuries. Conversely, in the eleventh century, the Mediterranean was closed to Islam, and its development was irremediably disturbed (which) is probably the best explanation as a whole for the sudden retreat of Islam”.[xxviii]

In this context of constant dispute for control of trade routes, between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, the European commercial rebirth was managed. The modern West emerged from competition and struggle with Arab civilization for control of the Mediterranean trade routes. The “barbarian” kingdoms on which the pre-modern medieval political units of Europe were built, had their own legal, institutional and cultural tradition, based on their traditions, which were fused with difficulty with the one coming from the Roman Empire, whose former members, including its intellectuals, had difficulty understanding its meaning, “far from understanding the obligation of the barbaric rules of hospitality, they knew nothing about the penalties imposed by respecting these rules, nor had they any idea about the collective character of penal repression. Ancient and medieval writers presented the hospitality of barbarian peoples as a natural virtue, inscribing it in the stereotype of the 'noble savage'”.

In this fusion/disagreement, not without enormous difficulties, a new type of society, with similar traits in its geographic and political diversity, emerged from the dissolution of the old Empire: “The Visigothic, Burgundian, Frankish and Lombard kingdoms, erected on the ruins of the western empire, were kingdoms of ethnic minorities, not only by name. In each of these monarchies the barbarian people, from whom royal power emanated, occupied a politically dominant position over a much larger Roman population. The groups in power faced this by creating structures capable of exercising power not only over tribal members but also over Roman society. Assuming the role of heirs of the Empire and living with the indigenous population, the barbarians were subjected to the influence of Roman culture, although remaining as separate communities. The Germans introduced in Roman Europe the principle of the personality of the law, giving it a high institutional degree. According to him, every free man should live and be judged according to the laws of his native tribe”.[xxix]

Based on this heterogeneous framework, the new European society was characterized, at its base, by the compulsory provision of surplus labor imposed on producers, the vast majority of whom were agrarians. Are its constitutive elements, those that defined its structure and dynamics, related to the capitalist outcome of its dissolution? Or was it impossible to anticipate such a development, as several authors maintained?

History has proven that he was a possibility, but not a necessity. No teleological or anachronistic approach allows elucidating the question. “Feudalism” was a concept created only in the 800th century, popularized in the 814th century. The feudal “system” dominated Europe for more than eight centuries, starting with the disintegration of the Empire, the decline of slavery and trade, the ruralization of the population, the formation of multiple lordships and barbarian kingdoms, the inability or impossibility of the Roman-Roman emperors. Germanicists in reconstituting a comprehensive political unit (even when that was his intention), the suppression of paganism and the political strengthening of the Catholic Church: “With his coronation on Christmas night XNUMX, it seemed that Charlemagne established an almost feudal relationship with the pope, admitting his superiority, because he had bestowed upon him the crown; but after the emperor's death (in XNUMX) his successors sought to overcome the situation by directly influencing the pontiffs and their election. Thus, against the two powers [Church and Empire] were conjured particularistic forces, gigantic and tense to challenge an order constituted on their backs, an order that they intended to infringe”.[xxx]

Due to this, there was a growing regionalization of power in Europe, concentrated locally in the hands of a rural aristocracy, which dominated the land and subjugated most of the population, through the monopoly of weapons, the support of the Church and a strong network of obligations between feudal lords and their vassals and subjects. There was a rupture, therefore, with the politico-social bases of the imperial past, although most of the institutions of feudalism were the reformulation, in a new framework, of institutions that already existed in the Roman period, even preserving their names (in Latin or in linguistic forms locales derived from it). Calmette insisted that the absence or scarcity of cash (poor development of a monetary economy) was decisive in the central issues that post-Empire Europe had to confront: the organization of agricultural work, making large-scale salaried work impossible, and the the property regime: “From the social point of view, feudalism is characterized by the land ownership regime; from the political point of view, by a hierarchy of powers that act independently, with the exception of the obligation to satisfy personal duties… other than the way of realizing the idea of ​​the State as a 'public thing' (res publica), where the sovereign State exercises its powers through magistrates or officials. In feudalism, there are no magistrates or officials, there is not even a State, since the official in other times exercises in a personal capacity the powers that he previously exercised as an agent.[xxxii]

The Roman imperial system of land ownership was practically “disintegrated”, existing at the center of feudalism three types of land appropriation, not always opposed and generally superimposed: full property (alleu), census possession (censive), benefit (fief). A beneficiary could assign part of his benefit to a “squatter” (tenant), thus producing a superposition of “legal regimes” or property. The best and largest lands on the manor belonged to the lord (or were enjoyed by him), being cultivated by serf-peasants. In the “servant meek”, the serfs cultivated their products, producing what was necessary for their survival. In exchange, they fulfilled various obligations and paid taxes or benefits of various kinds to their lords, while the “common meek” was the area of ​​common use for all social groups, including pastures, forests and woods. Exchanges were carried out mostly through the exchange of products, as there was almost no monetary system.

Agriculture was the main activity, with urban or rural handicrafts, the production of tools and materials for domestic use, linked to it. Feudal duties included corveia (cultivation of manor lands), talha (tax in kind, size ), capitation (tax per head), banality, paid for the use of equipment and installations (mill, oven, granary, roads), the “dead hand”, fee paid to remain on the manor in the event of the death of the father or chief of the family.

When the concession (use of certain agricultural equipment, exemption from paying certain taxes or installments) was made from one noble to another, the author of the donation was called suzerain. The noble benefited became a vassal, and took an oath of loyalty, pledging to fight in his army in case he was summoned, and to help him financially if necessary.[xxxi] Although apparently “institutional”, vassalage was, above all, a personal tie: “'Vassal' has, as its usual synonym, 'friend' and, more often, the old, probably Celtic, name of dru, equivalent to it, but with a specific nuance of choice. It was sometimes applied to loving choice, and never, unlike the notion of 'friend', to parental ties”.[xxxii]

Mainstream production was done in units geared towards self-sufficiency, although they were rarely responsible for producing everything they consumed. European cities were still an appendage of the local rural economy, currency-mediated exchanges were secondary to the bulk of exchange that was done naturally and directly; the State, from a technical or legal point of view, did not exist. The organic unity of economic exploitation with physical coercion predominated: on the basis of an incipient social division of labor, the land-owning class extracted the economic surplus from the peasant class (which maintained ownership of the means of production) through the extra-economic resource of direct violence. Medieval nobility did not have direct ownership of the land nor directly direct the production process, in an environment of division of labor that was poorly developed and primarily focused on the production of use values, where the production of goods was just beginning.

These closed rural economies were governed by the need for survival and the order of the social hierarchy. The system was brought to the point where manorial domination was little more than brutal extortion, including the private life of serfs, far more than a statutory exchange of duties and guarantees. In these societies, besieged from abroad and dominated by the Christian Church, the consideration of work was still influenced by the Greco-Roman heritage reformulated by Christianity, that is, by the ideology inherited from a society that lived on slavery and prided itself on idleness. Medieval ideology was against work, as this was not a value, there was not, as there was not in ancient Greece, a word or concept to designate it.

In medieval Christian culture, work was an instrument of penance, an idea that directly clashed with the crafts in gestation, still considered “vile” by the Church. In the list of illicit professions, in addition to the merchant, there were tavern keepers (who sold wine and liquors) and teachers (who sold knowledge and science, a “gift of God” that could not be sold). These dogmas were changing and reducing as new professions emerged and production and trade increased. The list of prohibited trades grew smaller and, over time, the clergy began to justify the “profits of the merchants”, including the “accursed usury”.[xxxv]

Medieval European time existed according to agricultural cycles and rudimentary notions of marking such as day and night, winter and summer. He also followed the religious services (hour originates from the Latin prayer, prayer), church bells guided medieval residents, it was a “time without haste”. The economic power of the feudal lord, in this context, was not based on his income, but on his number of taxable subjects. The servile obligations consisted of the delivery, forced or voluntary (in general, a mixture of both), by the serfs, of that part of the production that exceeded the maintenance of their basic needs. In addition, there were varied aristocratic privileges. The feudal economy was localized, self-centered, and ill-suited to long-distance trade: “The collapse of the Carolingian empire ruined the last power able to concern itself with public works, or powerful enough to perform some of them. Even the old Roman routes, less solid than usually imagined, deteriorated due to lack of maintenance. Especially the bridges, which were never repaired, preventing a large number of displacements. Add to that insecurity, growing due to the depopulation that it itself had provoked”.[xxxiv]

Most people's lives were spent in their villages, their universe of exchange was limited; To a large extent, this continued to happen, for a large part of the European population, until the mid-nineteenth century: in the High Middle Ages, the “national” market (which surpassed the radius of the regional community) and the internationalization of trade were still incipient , although they existed for some activities. Industrial and commercial activities were cartelized by the rigid guild system, the entry of new competitors and technological innovation were limited. In guilds or corporations, to become master smith or weaver, the candidate needed to undergo a long apprenticeship. The masterpiece required as a final qualification could take two years of work. The production dominated by these masters was inspected in order to guarantee the quality of the product and working conditions.

Medieval communities occupied, on average, an area of ​​twelve square kilometers. More than 90% of the consumption of the European peasant came from a circle of five kilometers of radius around his house. Only 1% of the grain produced in Europe traveled to markets located at a considerable distance. The economy was organized around local markets and fairs: markets were weekly and annual fairs normally lasted three weeks.

Access to the fairs was done on foot, which is why they were never more than 40 kilometers from the marketer’s house: “From the XNUMXth to the XNUMXth century, the reduced importance of the barter economy walked passi passu with the manorial economy, on which the feudal system was based; the rebirth of western cities took place in a world constantly and discontinuously shaken, between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, by the Norman, Hungarian and Saracen invasions… From the last years of the XNUMXth century onwards, a period of demographic expansion began enough to explain. This expansion brought a growth of the urban population, due not only to the natural increase, but also to the emigration from the countryside to the city (which) gave rise and developed a bourgeoisie that occupied itself with commerce or had an administrative career”.[xxxiv]

At the same time, the old European nobility was being devoured by feudal wars, which consumed a good part of their dwindling economic resources. The violence of weapons protected and guaranteed the land ownership of the dominant class, which did not participate economically in production. Extraction of economic surplus and protection of landed property were carried out through the use of violence: the feudal “State” coincided in fact with the armed noble class. The social function of medieval warfare was based on the need to increase the economic surplus through territorial expansion and the increase in land ownership.

The fundamental wealth was land ownership, which could only be increased through conquest, therefore violence, war, was almost permanent: “The terms war and peace are not adequate to portray the medieval world. Although they can be found in historical analysis, this opposition hides a fallacy. It is a society where antagonisms are so marked, where sudden changes do not break with the established order, but, on the contrary, interpenetrate in such a way that it is impossible to dissociate them without annulling the existing fragile balance. Violence is the concept that best covers this society. Violence is inherent in medieval socio-political relations; producer and result of the composition of the armed band, which through it (or because of it) imposes dominion over the land and its direct producers, exercising its extra-economic coercion. Violent is everyday life, the forms of punishment and justice, the ways of washing off offended honor, violent is life with its bitter taste”.[xxxviii]

Medieval warfare was not likely to change the existing mode of production or class relations. The European Middle Ages were governed by those who waged war or held a monopoly on violence, which was practically the same class, and by those who prayed: “The aristocracy, the ruling class in the medieval West, was characterized by command over men, the power over the land, and warlike activity.”[xxxviii] Medieval wars, of course, were conflicts that had much more than religious motivations. The social function of the nobility was to wage war and maintain its leading position through violence.

Within the framework of a system governed by compulsion and force, there were, however, practices of justice associated with the existing powers, which in this way guaranteed social cohesion, but “one cannot confuse the construction of the 'Rule of Law' in modern societies with , which involves, among other things, the affirmation of the State's monopoly on violence, with the distinction made by royal power in the High Middle Ages between 'legitimate violence' and 'illegitimate violence'. Legitimate violence in the High Middle Ages includes not only acts by the State and its agents, but also violent actions committed during 'revenge' and which do not exceed a certain limit. But what defined this limit? Although we have little evidence, it is possible to state that it was generally defined by the boundary beyond which the violent act was considered unjust and made all reconciliation impossible”.[xxxix]

According to Pierre Vilar, until the XNUMXth century, class struggles within the feudal system were attenuated and only led to visible transformations in the case of minority movements, urban struggles (the “communalist movement”), which interested limited social sectors. The wider rural movements took on mystical and religious forms (popular crusades, children's crusades). In the most important countries and regions of Europe, social conflict was limited by: (a) Sufficient agricultural production; (b) A certain fluidity in geographic population mobility (exodus towards the cities, expansion in the occupation of the countryside); (c) Expanding demography and economy: the feudal lord had a growing workforce and paid as little as possible, granted certain freedom to migratory movements, and accepted payments of monetary or in-kind fees in substitution for feudal obligations; (d) More or less general acceptance of social hierarchies and religious authorities. These characteristics would only change significantly with the “general crisis” of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries.[xl]

Money, formed through usury and trade, was further prevented from becoming industrial capital by the feudal system in the countryside, and by the corporate organization of production in the city. These obstacles were falling with the dissolution of feudal vassalages, with the expropriation and partial expulsion of rural populations, and with the destruction of corporate privileges, in a process of even greater violence, if considered socially, than the characteristic state of “permanent war”. from the Medieval.

Initially slow, an economic and social change took shape: urban areas began to consolidate from the tenth century onwards, in northern Italy and France, in southern England and Germany. Long-distance trade made a comeback from the XNUMXth century onwards, with the mercantile expansion of the Iberian countries, the Netherlands and some Italian coastal cities. In this process, the figure of the merchant, decisive for economic, social and even religious changes, was reinvigorated. A businessman who lived off commercial profit, he came into conflict with Catholic theology; To begin with, his calculus-based time was opposed to religious time.

Clergymen maintained that usury was sinful and could not exist, as the merchant's gain "supposes a mortgage on a time that belongs to God alone." The condemnation of this activity was not carried out because of the abusive charging of interest, but because of the ownership and right that God had over time. A change in time and its measure: combined with the emergence of the first inflationary shocks and the multiplication of currencies, this new world required a different time, measured mathematically. Hence the appearance of clocks from the fourteenth century, which began to be installed in public towers. Its bells accurately marked the hours of business transactions and workers' shifts. Thus, “the old bell, voice of a dying world, passed the word to a new voice”, that of clocks. Wasting time became a serious sin in the Late Middle Ages, which created its “calculating morality”: “Time that only belonged to God was now the property of man”.[xi]

In European long-distance trade, the epic of the Venetian merchant Marco Polo (in the XNUMXth century) was its great anticipation. However, there were several European travelers towards the East, notably Pian del Carpine and Guillermo de Rubroeck, and they prolonged great transformations: “In the XNUMXth century, medieval Europe was the theater of an authentic cultural revolution. The political unification of Asia, carried out under Mongol rule, allowed Europeans to travel through hitherto unknown lands and come into contact with civilizations whose existence had not even been imagined: religious people, ambassadors, traders and adventurers launched themselves in the direction of great maritime itineraries and lands ending in Persia, China, and India.[xliii]

It was not just a European process: a century later, the travels of the Arab navigator Ibn Battuta (1304-1377), born in Tangiers, took place. He left his hometown in 1325 on his first major voyage, which took in Egypt, Mecca and Iraq. Later, he traveled through Yemen, East Africa, the banks of the Nile, Asia Minor, the Black Sea coast, Crimea, Russia, Afghanistan, India, the Sunda Islands (Indonesia) and the Canton region. , in China. In his later years he was in Granada, in present-day Spain.[xiii]

The tendency to establish broad economic ties was, therefore, recurrent and multipolar; it was frustrated several times by the economic stagnation of its center of irradiation, finally being successful in the era of the great European navigations: the western voyages of Columbus and his successors, from the end of the XNUMXth century, opened the way for the structuring of a new worldwide commercial circuit, Europe-East-Africa-America. These trips had the same objective that animated Marco Polo and his contemporaries: the Book of Wonders of the World de Marco Polo was taken by Columbus on his first voyage to America, on which he set out to find a western route from Europe to the dazzling and rich Asia described by the Venetian merchant.

The European interoceanic epic, however, did not take place in a vacuum: “The East made possible the rise of the West through two processes of diffusion/assimilation and appropriation. The Orientals created, after the sixth century of our era, a global economy and a global network of communications thanks to which the Oriental portfolios of advanced resources (ideas, institutions and technologies) were diffused in the West, where they were assimilated through the eastern globalization. In sequence, Western imperialism, from 1492, led Europeans to appropriate all the economic resources of the East, which allowed the rise of the West. Because of this, the West was never the autonomous pioneer of its own development, as its emergence would have been inconceivable without the contribution of the East”.[xiv]

The economy, trade routes, and communication networks created by the eastern empires, however, never included America (although the Chinese did visit).[xlv] nor other regions of the globe. The appropriation of Eastern scientific and intellectual techniques and resources by the European kingdoms does not eliminate the fact that their worldwide expansion was based on new productive forces, “production for the sake of production”, which forced the powers of Europe to create a world economic network, to feed and give vent to a production that is constantly fed back by its own objective, profit. Were there intrinsic elements of eastern civilizations that prevented their “modernization”, as some authors have maintained? Maxime Rodinson criticized Max Weber's assertion of “Islamic ideology” as the enemy of profitable and “rationalized” commercial activity proper to capitalism, and its political and ideological institutions. He pointed out how, from the XNUMXth century onwards, Islam was seen in the West as the epitome of tolerance and reason. The West was fascinated by Islam's emphasis "on the balance between worship and the needs of life, and between moral and ethical needs and bodily needs, and between respect for the individual and emphasis on social welfare."[xlv]

This left a mark on the evolution and ruptures of Western ideologies: “Given the still relevant role of religion in the ideological elaboration of the different social classes, the fight against the feudal system, represented religiously by the Catholic Church, required, with the emergence of new classes, and modes of production, a religious legitimation that manifested itself in the guise of the Protestant Reformation or heresy”;[xlv] in the fight against heresy, the Church-State was forged: “Orthodoxy incited heresy by condemning and naming it... heresy it was supposedly fighting… these covert bodies and their specialists were often former heretics paying for their sins. By hunting and punishing people, orthodoxy also instilled particular mental attitudes, a dread of heresy, the conviction that heresy is hypocritical because it is occult and must be detected at any cost and by any means.”[xlviii]

In the period of its expansion, the social situation of the “Old Continent” also changed: the worsening situation of the workers, especially the peasants, created the bases for ever greater social revolts against the prevailing order, against the lords. In the heyday of feudal England, peasants survived compulsory extractions on the order of 50% of their total product. As markets evolved, the pressures on peasant labor increased: in southern France, feudal rents rose from a quarter of total income in 1540 to half in 1665. jacqueries (named after the popular rebellion against the aristocracy of northeastern France, which took place in 1358: it became known by this name because of the habit of nobles scornfully referring to any peasant as Jacques, or Jacques Bonhomme) and the peasant revolts of all kinds increased.

The situation of urban workers, craftsmen or proto-salaried elements, also worsened: to an index of 110 in the mid-45th century, shortly after the Black Death was overcome (sanitary/demographic hecatomb that caused an enormous lack, and consequently an increase in prices, of labor) in England, urban wages amounted to XNUMX at the end of the sixteenth century, reversing the trend towards an increase in the purchasing power of wages that had prevailed in the preceding century and a half, a period of labor shortages.[xlix]

New productive forces were born within the feudal system; the Middle Ages were not a period of stagnation of technical and productive progress. Jean Gimpel even referred to an “industrial revolution of the Middle Ages”: “Medieval society was enthusiastic about mechanization and technical research, because it firmly believed in progress, a concept ignored in the ancient world. In general, the men of the Middle Ages refused to respect the traditions that could have stopped their creative impetus”.[l] The Industrial Revolution of the XNUMXth century was a social and economic transformation originated in scientific and technical advances made, in large part, in the medieval world, in particular the mechanical clock, without which it would have been impossible, in the first place, the generalization of salaried work. .

Medieval invention “reached the height of its evolution around the middle of the thirteenth century. At that point, the situation changed and a series of adverse events came to thwart the development of technology. At the same time, Western society, decimated and impoverished, was losing its dynamism”.[li] Even so, the European “technical-scientific revolution” had medieval origins: Brunelleschi revolutionized (in the XNUMXth century) engineering and architecture, merging art, craftsmanship and mathematics to build the dome of the cathedral from Florence.

“European” technical and scientific advances, on the other hand, would have been ineffective without some political transformations. Commercial booms had a dissolving effect on the feudal system, which periodically shook society: in the few commercially developed regions of Europe, mercantile capital (valued in the sphere of the circulation of goods) began to assume an ever greater importance, although it was situated within a social formation in which the main wealth continued to be land. Mercantilism became dominant in Europe with the decline of feudalism, based on the accumulation of foreign exchange in precious metals by the State in formation, through foreign trade of a protectionist nature, with profitable results for the trade balances of the kingdoms.

In the declining phase of the feudal era, small conflicts, daily or on a larger scale, between lords and peasants still predominated in Europe, but clashes also began, increasingly serious and intense, between the inhabitants of towns (bourgeois), dedicated to commercial activities, and the Church. The itinerant trader gave way to the fixed urban trader with correspondents in other geographic points, in a context in which, in the strong and impactful description of Roberto Lopez, “with the impetus provided by agriculture declining, merchants and craftsmen, bankers and travelers were the protagonists of a lively economic development that had as theater the whole known world, from Greenland to Peking... The forces that began to disintegrate the feudal world, therefore, were not exclusively European but global.

The commercial surges, which demanded an increase in production, opposing the rigidities of the corporative system, paved the way for the increasing mercantile production, which prolonged capitalist production, a sequence in which the “x” of the causal relationship seems to be found between European feudalism and capitalism. Modern forms of capital initially developed through a long process of transition from previous forms of appropriation of the product of labor.

Commercial surges affected the feudal system based on its own contradictions and the needs imposed by them: “The lord of the big city is very rich, but his wealth is rigid, based on rights and land. If he wants to mobilize it, he needs to ask his bourgeois to open and make their coffers available to him. The growing financial fluidity that allows principalities to stabilize is based on merchant loans. But you are not the only debtor. Monetary currents, increasingly alive and diffuse, that gradually irrigate the rural economy also leave the city. Most of the money that, in the villages, redeems the corveias, pays the taxes and buys the crops comes from the city. The urban agglomeration attracts peasant products, only partly for consumption. The bourgeoisie, including the richest, were still, in the twelfth century, semi-peasants. All have land outside the city, in the places of their ancestors, they exploit it personally, obtaining almost everything they need to feed themselves, a good part of the articles they sell to travelers or that artisans make in their workshops”. [liiii]

The passage from this “semi-peasant”, semi-nomadic status to its complete “urbanity” marked the European transition to modernity. These processes were accelerating and imposing the transition to a new economic/social era in Europe, based on “a new type of individual that emerges in feudal society: the Mercator. We see him circulating from domain to domain and showing off before castellans and villagers the trinkets he carries on the back of porters or on mules. Usually, several associate and spend days together, sharing capital and profits. They preferentially sell luxury products, the sale of which in a small quantity gives them greater advantage... it is for the time being a poor pariah, a 'dust-feet', according to the name they gave them and which will last in England. If, in a world where stability and real estate are valued above all else, this man chose a wandering life, he certainly did so out of necessity: the population of the countryside is as numerous as in all times of prosperity, and there are often need to earn a living in another way... When the bad season completely prevents communication, the merchants settle in cities, preferably those located at the intersection of major roads or at the estuary of rivers, because it will be easier from them to restart the trade. trade as soon as the weather improves or the thaw allows (which) gives life to the old cities, which were limited to the role of simple episcopal residences”.[iii]

The questioning, shocks and decline of feudalism were born, therefore, both from internal and external economic alterations, as well as from ever deeper social conflicts, which faced multiple actors with sometimes convergent, sometimes divergent interests, and, mainly, the need for survival and expansion of a group that would evolve into a new social class, a process that created a world where, against the old feudal “immobility”, “everything that is solid will melt into air”.

The gestation and trajectory of this initially dispersed and disunited group, later increasingly united and aware of their differentiated interests and opposed to the dominant classes, took place over a millennium, which knew the height, stagnation and decline of European feudalism, which it did not start or confine itself to the borders of Europe, but suffered, at all times, external influences and clashes, as well as international repercussions, which would ultimately be worldwide.

*Osvaldo Coggiola He is a professor at the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of Marxist economic theory: an introduction (Boitempo).



[I] The origin of the concept of "Europe" is uncertain: in pre-classical Greece, Europa was a mythological queen of Crete and not a geographical designation. Later, the term was used by the Greeks to refer to north-central Greece; in the XNUMXth century BC, its meaning was extended to lands even further north. Etymology suggests that the word is derived from the Greek εὐρύς (eurus), meaning "broad, broad". “Ample”, moreover, was an epithet that designated the Earth itself in the Proto-Indo-European religion (Cf. Carlo Curcio. Europe. Story of un'idea. Turin, Edizioni RAI, 1978).

[ii] The idea of ​​“benefits of delay” predates this formulation; it was part, for example, of Leon Trotsky's elaboration of the concept of “unequal and combined development”.

[iii] Samir Amin. On the transition between modes of production. the commoner nº 33, Lisbon, September 2021,

[iv] Karl Ferdinand Werner. Born from her Nobiltà. Lo sviluppo delle elite politiche in Europa. Turin, Giulio Einaudi, 2000. A nobles it was not an inheritance or conquest that one could enjoy freely and for life: “Neither birth, nor the rank attained, were enough without the 'personal contribution' that, in the struggle for political influence, they gave to the noble the right to a legitimate personal aspiration, tending to increase their dignites personal and, through it, that of his own gens. Cicero's exhortation to Brutus puts the dignites ahead of the Republic itself'(Fallo) ex tu dignitas et ex re publica'. TO dignites is a noble's highest possession, more important than life, and resembles the term 'honor' (honor). "

[v] Neri de Barros Almeida. What do Historians who Study Medieval War Violence see? Text presented at the Symposium “War and History”, held at the Department of History at USP, in September 2010.

[vi] Perry Anderson. Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism. São Paulo, Brasiliense, 1989.

[vii] Marc Bloch. La Société Feodale. La formation des liens de dépendance, les classes et le gouvernement des hommes. Paris, Albin Michel, 1968 [1939].

[viii] Rodney Hilton. The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism. Rio de Janeiro, Peace and Land, 1977.

[ix] Jacques Le Goff. The Medieval Man. Lisbon, Presence, 1989.

[X] Francisco C. Teixeira da Silva. Feudal Society. Warriors, priests and workers. São Paulo, Brasiliense, 1982.

[xi] “Civilization was dying. Together with the last Roman legions, science, law and order receded before the barbarian peoples of the Atlantic coasts. Some of them, like the Lombards and the Visigoths, came into contact with the disintegrating Roman Empire and preserved memories and some luxuries of the civilization that was dying out… The Franks – the people of Charlemagne – arrived at this scenario too late. They found a land where brute force prevailed and they settled, separated from the city where Greco-Roman culture survived, Constantinople, by a sea across which stretched another culture, that of Islam, antagonistic and driven by the Arabs” (Harlod Lamb. Charlemagne. Buenos Aires, Aguilar, 2006).

[xii] Leonardo Benevolo. City history. São Paulo, Perspective, 1993.

[xiii] Francisco C. Teixeira da Silva. op cit.

[xiv] “Charles Martel repelled the Muslim invaders in southern Gaul at the battle of Poitiers and increased his power and wealth through the confiscation of Church property. (His grandson) Carlos extended his dominions until forming an empire, the Carolingian, different from the previous ones. After him, something unique happened in the West. The memory of that lost empire survived and became a force that helped shape the new western world. Charles became a legend, the legend of Charlemagne, which grew and spread throughout all Christian lands. A legend that was not just the evocation of an imaginary Golden Age or an extraordinary king, but the common memory of a man who had ruled them for a brief period with an unusual purpose, which collapsed with his death. This legend permeated palaces and churches and even simple houses, spread along the roads, gave rise to songs and novels and influenced for four centuries” (Harold Lamb. Op. cit.).

[xv] Krzysztof Pomian L'Europa e le sue Nazioni. Milan, Arnoldo Mondadori, 1990.

[xvi] Francesco Gabrielli. Maometto and the Great Arab Conquest. Roma, Newton & Compton, 1996.

[xvii] Dominique Urvoy. Les Pensaurs Libres dans l'Islam Classique. Paris, Flammarion, 1996.

[xviii] Ferdinando Schettino. Middle East. L'epicentro della storia. Rome, Idea, 2008.

[xx] Francisco Magalhães Fº. Economic History. São Paulo, Literary Suggestions, sdp.

[xx] Philippe Norel. L'Histoire Economique Globale. Paris, Threshold, 2009.

[xxx] Claude Horrut. Ibn Khaldûn, an Islam des “Lumières”? Brussels, Complexe, 2006.

[xxiii] Ibn Jaldun. Introduction to Universal History. Al-Muqaddimah. Mexico, Fund for Economic Culture, 1997.

[xxiii] Biancamaria Scarcia. Il Mondo dell'Islam. Rome, Riuniti, 1981.

[xxv] Gustave Cohen. La Gran Claridad de la Edad Media. Buenos Aires, Argos, 1948.

[xxiv] A Jihad it was a concept of the Islamic religion meaning “commitment”, “effort”. It can be understood as a struggle, through personal will, to seek and conquer the perfect faith. the one who follows Jihad It is known as Mujahid. There are two ways to understand the Jihad, the “greater” and the “lesser”: the “greater” is a struggle of the individual with himself, for the domain of the soul; the “lesser” one is the effort that Muslims make to bring Islam to other people; a division that did not emerge until the eleventh century (Karen Armstrong. Fields of Blood. Religion and the history of violence. São Paulo, Companhia das Letras, 2016).

[xxv] Amin Maalouf. Les Croisades Vues par les Arabes. Paris, JC Lattes, 1983.

[xxviii] Paul Strathern. Napoleon in Egypt. Barcelona, ​​Planeta, 2009, p. 148.

[xxviii] Fernand Braudel. Grammar of Civilizations. Sao Paulo, Martins Fontes, 1989.

[xxix] Karol Modzelewski. L'Europa dei Barbari. Le culture tribali di fronte alla cultura romano-cristian. Turin, Bollati Boringhieri, 2008.

[xxx] Ludovico Gatto. Il Medioevo. Roma, Newton & Compton, 1994.

[xxxii] Joseph Calmette. The Société Féodale. Paris, Armand Colin, 1947.

[xxxi] See Witold Kula. Economic Theory of the Feudal System. Lisbon, Presença, 1979 [1962]; Henri Pirenne. Economic and Social History of the Middle Ages, cit.

[xxxii] Marc Bloch. Op. quote,

[xxxv] Jacques Le Goff. To Another Middle Ages. Time, work and culture in the West. Rio de Janeiro, Voices, 2013.

[xxxiv] Marc Bloch. Op. cit.

[xxxiv] Yves Renouard. Le Città Italiane dal X al XIV Secolo. Milan, Rizzoli, 1975.

[xxxviii] Carlos RF Nogueira. War and Peace in the Middle Ages. Text presented at the Symposium “War and History”, Department of History at USP, September 2010.

[xxxviii] Jerome Baschet. La Civilization Féodale. De l'an mil à la colonization de l'Amérique. Paris, Champs Histoire, 2006.

[xxxix] Marcelo Candido da Silva. Royal Power and Revenge in the High Middle Ages. Text presented at the Symposium “War and History”, held at the Department of History at USP, in September 2010.

[xl] Pierre Vilar. Some research topics. In: Charles Parain et al. The Feudalism. Madrid, SARPE, 1985.

[xi] Jacques Le Goff. The Stock Exchange and Life. Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian Civilization, 1977.

[xliii] Jean-Paul Roux. Les Explorateurs au Moyen Âge. Paris, Arthème Fayard, 1985.

[xiii] Ross E. Dunn. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta. Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2005.

[xiv] JM Hobson. The Eastern Origins of Western Civilization. Cambridge, CambridgeUniversityPress, 2004.

[xlv] See Gavin Menzies. 1421. The year China discovered the world. Rio de Janeiro, Bertrand Brazil, 2007.

[xlv] Maxime Rodinson. Islam and Capitalism. Buenos Aires, Siglo XXI, 1973.

[xlv] Maurizio Brignoli. Capitalism and Protestantism. The Contraddizione nº 135, Rome, April-June 2011.

[xlviii] Georges Duby. L'Europe Pré-industrielle XIe-XIIe Siècles. Paris, Mouton, 1968.

[xlix] Douglas Knoop. The Medieval Mason. An economic history of English stone building in the later Middle Ages and early modern times. New York, Barnes & Noble, 1967.

[l] Jean Gimpel. Les Batisseurs de Cathédrales. Paris, Editions du Seuil, 1958.

[li] Jean Gimpel. The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages. Rio de Janeiro, Zahar, 1977.

[liiii] Roberto S. Lopez. La Rivoluzione Commerciale del Medioevo. Turin, Giulio Einaudi, 1975.

[iii] Régine Pernoud. Les Origines de la Bourgeoisie. Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1947.

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